April 11, 2011

Vessels Wait up to a Month to Load Soybeans at Port of Paranagua

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The loading operations at the Port of Paranagua in southern Brazil continue to be plagued by wet weather. Whenever rainfall occurs at the port, all loading operations must be suspended until the threat of rain passes. As a result of the wet weather over the last two months, there were approximately 30 vessels in the harbor this past weekend waiting for their turn to dock and load grain. The vessels that were fortunate enough to dock late last week had been waiting in the harbor for more than a month for their turn.

According to port authorities, approximately one million tons of products (combination of soybeans, corn, soybean meal, and wheat) failed to be loaded at the port due to wet weather during the month of March. In more normal times, grain vessels wait an average of five days for their turn to dock at the port and the total time at the port, including waiting, loading, and departing usually averages one week. Unfortunately, the total time spent at the port has been stretched to an average of one month thus far this shipping season.

If everything is working to capacity at the three public berths at the port, they can load out 100,000 tons of grain per day. In order to fill the 30 vessels currently waiting in the harbor, it would take 1.8 million tons of soybeans, or approximately 18 days if there were no additional disruptions. That 1.8 million tons would represent 12% of the estimated 2010/11 soybeans produced in the state.

Port and state officials have realized for a long time that they have a serious problem at the port and they have submitted requests to the federal government to fund improvements at the port. The biggest proposed improvement at the port would be the reorientation of the berths that would increase the number of public berths from three to four and also allow for larger ships to be loaded. An additional improvement would be the instillation of retractable covers at the berths that would allow loading operations to continue during periods of rainfall.